The Home Stretch
Just weeks ago it looked as though the first Team Canada in the history of the Brier was going to be a flop.
It may still be competition wise, but at least it will have three of the four members of the 2014 Brier championship team from Alberta.
People started to question how or whether the team skipped by Kevin Koe would take the first ever bye to the Brier because prior to the Canadian men’s curling championship second Carter Rycroft announced he would be leaving the sport for a year. When Koe won there were questions as to who would fill Rycroft’s shoes, but those were quickly squashed when it was leaked that Koe was leaving for greener pastures.
Prior to their team heading to the world men’s curling championships Koe announced he would be forming a new team with third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert. This obviously raised some eyebrows as this came before both worlds and the Players Championship, but the team said it wouldn’t affect their performance for the remainder of the season. They finished fourth at worlds, so decide for yourself if it did.
With that announcement it meant there were only three of the original members remaining, one of which (Rycroft) said they were taking a year off of curling because his wife is expecting their third child. This left two of the original players, meaning that they were ineligible to be Team Canada this season.
Cue the comeback.
Rycroft changed his mind. With their win he decided to come back on a partial schedule, playing only three CCA-sponsored events (Canada Cup, Continental Cup, Brier). He will not play any World Curling Tour events.
Cue the comeback again.
After also announcing that he would be taking a year away from curling, John Morris, a member of the B.C. team (third Jim Cotter, second Tyrel Griffith, lead Rick Sawatsky) that was defeated in the 2014 Brier final, decided to come back.
He will be joining third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen for the three CCA events that make up the Alberta Triple Crown and a few World Curling Tour events.
With Rycroft out of the lineup for the WCT events they announced that Scott Bailey will take his place at second in those cases. It’s definitely not the ideal situation for a competitive curling team, but why not do it?
There is really no downside to coming back to play these events, especially the Brier, even if they do have a few different guys stepping in to play second depending on what event they’re at. The only downside is that they could have poor showings and get blown out, but considering they’ve made it clear they’re playing partial schedules there really is no pressure on them.
The free and guaranteed ride to the Brier, which happens to be in their home province, is more than enough reason to come back for at least next season. If they do well and win again they can cross that bridge then, but for now it appears Morris and Rycroft will get to have their cake and eat it too.
They both wanted time to focus on personal things, which they’re getting, but they also get to return to the Brier – this time as the first-ever Team Canada.
I don’t think anyone would blame them for making this decision.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.